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Rangers win in Paisley to reach final

St. Mirren FC 0

Rangers FC 1

Ramsay 105
  • Final Result: St Mirren. FC 0-1 Rangers FC (AET)
  • Sunday, 13 April 2014
  • St. Mirren Park
  • Under 20´s
  • Scottish Youth Cup
The presence of St. Mirren youth squads of all ages at this Scottish Youth Cup semi-final lent the West Stand something of a carnival atmosphere, even if the rather dreich weather conditions didn't follow suit. The Buddies' future stars were in fine voice throughout the tie, whilst a local marketing campaign highlighting reasonable ticket prices and an opportunity to see the emergence of new talent contributed to an impressive turnout at Greenhill Road. A great atmosphere, then, for either side to book their place in the cup final before. When players in both monochrome and light blue emerged from the tunnel for the first half (let's attribute the stadium DJ's choice of Kernkraft 400 by Zombie Nation to the infectious joviality of the crowd), it was to respectful applause from fans of both sides. 
Residents of the technical boxes were, of course, all business. One needn't explain the prestige of the Scottish Youth Cup to St. Mirren's Head of Youth Development, David Longwell, whose unchecked passion would see him sent to the stands in the second half, or to the singularly furious Gordon Durie, who evidently hadn't seen a hometown return as occasion to let his charges away with giving anything less than 100%.
Scarcely surprising, then, that both teams got out of the blocks at full tilt. The game's first five minutes saw the home side's Anton Brady and Lewis Morgan link up to some considerable effect in attack, weaving quick one-twos through their opponents' defence in the first 10 minutes. Morgan in particular tested Gers keeper Liam Kelly on a number of occasions. 
Their offensive pressure was returned in the form of recurrent Rangers counter-attacks. From the game's seventh minute the Buddies were made aware of Rangers' powerful, pacy centre forward Jamie Burrows, as a seemingly innocuous clearance ended up forcing goalkeeper Chris Dilo into a good save. Saints defender Mark Barrowman believed he was in control when he ran to collect the running ball, but Burrows stormed up the left side of St. Mirren' half to dispossess the number three and challenge Dilo one-on-one.
It wasn't the last time an attendant Ally McCoist would have reason to take notice of the Rangers striker. Burrows would pressure the otherwise unflappable Dilo into a misplaced defensive pass on 14 minutes, setting up fellow forward player Darren Ramsay for a shot on the edge of the area. A neat saved from the home side's number one followed.
For their part, St. Mirren looked to Lewis McLear and Thomas Reilly for the majority of their threats as genuine chances became few and far between. The former set up the latter for a shot in the 23rd minute, playing a smooth backheel to feet in an opening amongst the St. Mirren defence. Reilly shot just left of goal.
The Saints could plausibly have gone ahead near the break if Anton Brady - squaring up against a panicked Glaswegian back line in the centre of the pitch - had chosen to shoot, rather than knock the ball right to unprepared teammate Thomas Reilly. Opposition defender Craig Halkett intercepted and cleared away any danger, and it was telling of a home team who lacked a decisive cutting edge in this game.
The first half closed with a goalmouth scramble in the St. Mirren penalty area. Amidst confusion and a throng of bodies, both Callum Gallacher and a still-threatening Burrows managed to fire off shots which Chris Dilo – firmly proving himself as a top-quality shot stopper – got down to palm away.
  • Half Time:
  • St. Mirren FC
  • 0-0
  • Rangers FC
The attacking intent that kicked off the first half of the match wasn’t to be found in the final period. I consider my euphemism game to be pretty strong, but an orchestra of kind words couldn't hide the fact that, absent any scoring, this semi-final's second half lacked excitement. Nevertheless, it was impressive to see both teams retain their shape and defensive solidity well into the final minutes of the match, and it is easy to understand why a certain caginess might creep into play in such an important tie.
Fine defensive performances were the order of the day. Buddies forward Lewis Morgan was frequently the only black-and-white strip in Rangers’ half, and while he pursued solo runs with Forrest Gump tenacity – on 58 minutes beating three defenders and claims that the ball had gone out of play for a throw-in, before being crowded out in the penalty area – the visiting defence simply could not be breached.
The ball found its way to the back of St. Mirren’s net shortly afterwards, but only once Gallacher had been decisively called offside. His tap-in past a disinterested Dilo wasn’t fooling anyone. More fruitful for the Gers was a penetrative run from Darren Ramsay, who was subsequently chopped down by Barry Cuddihy in the 61st minute. Controversy ensued, as the referee sought advice from his assistants on whether to award a free kick just outside the box, or a penalty. Despite derision from the Rangers end, a free kick was given: Ramsay laid off Charlie Telfer, who shot wide.
In this reporter’s opinion, the free kick was the right call. No two ways about a similar sliding challenge on Ramsay 10 minutes later, however: that one was definitely in the box, and definitely a foul. That the ref waved play on was a justifiable source of frustration for the Blues’ front line.
That was about that for genuine chances in the second half. Rangers began to impress themselves upon the game, reducing their opposition to hurried clearances to a deserted centre circle, but no player managed to take the initiative. The Paisley side would eventually get the ball near Liam Kelly’s goal in stoppage time: claims of a Craig Halkett hand-ball were dismissed by the referee, denying St. Mirren a penalty and ending 90 minutes goalless.
  • Full Time:
  • St. Mirren FC
  • 0-0
  • Rangers FC

Within five minutes of the restart, Chris Dilo had cause to pull out no less than four diving saves from Rangers’ corner kicks. The goalie was keeping his team in the game.

St. Mirren would continue to hold out for a further 10 minutes, but Rangers were relentless. Just before half time in extra time, their pressure would finally show as Darren Ramsay knocked the ball into space on the edge of the area and curled a shot into the top right-hand corner of the goal. The away side were a goal up in a game where an equaliser didn’t appear to be forthcoming, and they entered the second half of extra time with renewed confidence. Gallacher and Daniel Stoney could suddenly be found taking on Saints defenders and linking up play in the opposition’s half.

St. Mirren weren’t without fight, however. A free kick near the middle of the pitch in the final moments of the game saw 20 players crowd Rangers’ box. Goalkeeper Dilo launched a low, powerful ball into the area, which was batted away by a defender. Daniel Stoney broke with the ball, flanked by two teammates and closing down on the back-pedalling goalkeeper. A second goal looked certain, but we hadn’t seen the last of Dilo’s defensive prowess. He allowed Stoney just enough room for the striker to decide to shoot rather than pass, before advancing at his feet and gathering the ball.

Dilo’s side would lose the match, but from his first touch to his last their keeper had shown himself to be a very exciting prospect indeed.

Final Result: Final Result: St Mirren. FC 0-1 Rangers FC (AET)


St. Mirren FC
Rangers FC

1. Chris Dilo
2. Barry Cuddihy
3. Mark Barrowman
4. Declan Hughes
5. Mark Williams
6. Jack Baird
7. Lewis McLear
8. Adam Brown
9. Anton Brady
10. Thomas Reilly
11. Lewis Morgan
13. Jamie McGowan 
14. Daniel McDonald
15. Jon Scullion
16. Josh Beattie

1. Liam Kelly 
2. Greg Pascazio
3. Ryan Sinnamon
4. Craig Halkett
5. Luca Gasparotto
6. Charlie Telfer
7. Dylan Dykes
8. Andy Murdoch
9. Callum Gallacher
10. Jamie Burrows
11. Darren Ramsay
12. Kristian Gibson
14. Scott Roberts
15. Ryan Hardie
16. Daniel Stoney
21. Robbie McRory

Star Player
St. Mirren FC
Rangers FC
Chris Dilo was St Mirren's top player, a hero between the sticks.
Darren Ramsay was the star man for Rangers.
Magic Moment
St. Mirren FC
Rangers FC
Any one of a number of Dilo's saves drew plaudits from the Saints fans.
Darren Ramsay's well taken goal was a mixture of joy and relief for Rangers.
  • Match report and photos copyright Youth Football Scotland.
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